Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#22 Classroom Volunteers, Parents at Therapy Sessions

I finally got to volunteer in Jack's inclusion class last Friday. What a HOOT! His TEACCH teacher made sure he came to the inclusion class while I was there, and I got to play some games with Jack and another child working on initial blends (matching initial sounds of pictures on cards to the proper blends on a chart and such). Jack did so much better than I thought he would (much better than he would have done last year). It helped that his partner was his best friend, a very kind and smart boy whom Jack befriended last year in kindergarten.

I also worked with several kids from my literacy tutoring last year...kids who are now doing really well. If you've ever considered volunteering at an elementary school to help with reading, I highly recommend it. It's so rewarding and fun!

Jack's TEACCH teacher can't have volunteers in her class. Some of her students become too agitated by strangers being there to work (breaking routine...such a no-no for so many kids on the spectrum!). Last week, some of them were a mess because all the aides were subs for three days. I totally understand this and don't resent it, but it is frustrating not to see for myself what is going on. I'm just curious, not at all concerned, mainly because his teacher is such a good communicator, asks lots of questions, and really listens to what I say.

Interestingly, she has invited me to stick my head in the class whenever I'm in the building to say hi to Jack. I appreciate the invitation and will definitely take the opportunity in the future, while being careful not to abuse it. I know how little work his speech therapist, OT, and PT got out of Jack early on when I sat in. I had to stop going back with him because he focused on me (asked for hugs every 30 seconds, wanted to sit in my lap, etc.).

Today's question is this: How welcome are you at your child's school? If you're a teacher, how welcome do you make your students' parents feel? If you're a therapist, do you prefer to work with children alone or with a parent present? If you homeschool, did parental accessability to the classroom have anything to do with your decision to pull your child from school?


Canadian Kristin said...

Your timing is so excellent, like God gave you the question on my mind just so I could work it out! Our school district advised us to not put our son into public school (which I have since learned/realized is um... against the rules since our kid has a right to public education). That being said, I know that his teachers would completely support me being in the class if it worked for B. The private Kindergarten we have put him in is awesome but when I asked if I could volunteer in his class was advised not too as it would be too disruptive if I couldn't come every single day (the transitions and change are tough for my guy). So, it's a cunundrum... I am a Volunteer Mom. I am the Reading Mom in my older two kids' class and part of the perks of being SAHM is that I *can* go be in their classrooms. Oh. Okay, so I have rambled, but not answered the question. But I'm with you, I'd like to see what goes on in his class, see how he is really doing (I often get the feeling that I'm getting the nicely watered down version of how the day really went). I've been the one doing all the one-to-one and all the coaching as we waited for his dx... part of me wants to make sure no one is screwing up the system I figured out and have put in place! ;-)

Sharon (Stitches on Mars) said...

hi Susan,
We really don't do Halloween in Oz, but I suspect he would have a few problems with it. i think we may be too busy revving up for Melbourne Cup Day (first Tues in Nov).
BTW thanks for your comments on my win...yes it did have a happy ending. Sorry...meant to let you know earlier.

JoLynn said...

This is a fabulous question, and I hope a friend of mine responds, as she is royalty in this area, truly. I am a teacher, so I rarely if ever get to be in Max's classroom. That leaves a great amount of trust placed on the school to be doing what they should be doing.

As a gen. ed. teacher*, I hope parents feel welcome in my classroom. I have one parent who pops in at the end of the day on Fridays and is happy to do things, like cut things out and the like. I have always welcomed parents to come and spend a day with their kids. When I taught sixth grade, the kids themselves were less welcoming of that idea... kind of social suicide... But at fourth grade, they love to see their parents. Alas, many of the parents of my students work during the day, so they don't have the option of coming in.

*By "gen. ed. teacher" I mean I teach mainly a typical classroom with children whose biological age places them in 4th grade. I also have students with IEPs in my room. I am assisted by a special education teacher who is the case manager for the IEP students. Sometimes we co-teach. Other times, she has a small group in her room if the IEP and/or the content stipulates the need. In the past I have had students whose primary area of need was ASD, but this year I do not have any students with that area. When I did, it was like throwing me from the frying pan into the fire... no training whatsoever, and I had to beg for training because I wasn't a "special ed." teacher. At that point, I didn't know Ignatius (12) had Asperger's and Max was not yet born. I think dealing with kids on the spectrum in my professional setting helped me to be wiser when the time came to advocate for my own kids.